Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday's Mayhem and Foolishness: Let the Muse Sing!

Yesterday I had a great day writing wise.
It's been a while since I could say that.
I had a word count goal of 2,500.
I nailed it.
It's been a long time since that happened for me.
Yeah, 2,500 may not seem like a lot, but for me, for my new normal after 2014's head injury, this is amazing and wonderful and jaw dropping.
So I'm doing a little happy dance here in my chair.

And I'm going to try to do it again today.
*crosses all crossibles*

Hopefully I'll exciting news for you next week, but I'm skipping News Day this week.
See you on Work in Progress Wednesday!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Fabulous Friday: An Open Letter About Separating Author Life From Personal Life

Dear Everyone,

I keep hearing people say that writers shouldn't talk about politics or religion, or gun control, or reproductive rights. I write mostly m/m romance, so I get a lot of support around talking about LGBTQI rights. But if I can't talk about any of the other BIG IMPORTANT stuff in my life, I'm going to shut the hell up about that too.


Hold on.

Read through to the end before you write me off as a wasted of occupied space and breathable oxygen.

I'm going on record here.

You say it's going to destroy my career as a writer. Well, I'm not exactly in the big leagues with what little I've written thus far. I may never be. So, you know what?


I'll shut up.

Because all this talk is getting *nothing* accomplished.

It's time to do something instead.

I'm going to go write the hell out of characters experiencing all of the things. I'm going to let them do whatever they need to in support or opposition of the things I'm not supposed to talk about. Then I'm going to find the best damn beta-readers and proofreaders I can to help me.

And after that I'm going to publish as many books as I can before I die about ALL THE THINGS that no one is talking about but everyone is afraid of.


I'm going to DO all the things I think will bring a better world.

March in parades and protests.

Write letters to my senator.

Buy organic or work for organic food.

You know, whatever helps me be the changes I want to see.

And then I'll write stories full of those things.

You're not going to hear about me here.

I WILL talk about my characters, their worlds, and their dreams.

Expect loads of happy kitten videos and anything else I find beautiful in my Cherie Noel Author feeds (Twitter and Facebook) going forward. For now, I'll start you off with a snippet of me reading from my story Changeless.

May you be well,
Cherie Noel

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hop For Visibility, Awareness, and Equality: The Fight's Not Over Until We All Are Equal

Welcome to my final post in this year's Hop For Visibility, Awareness, and Equality.
I hope that you've found a lot to read that you enjoyed, learned from, and that made you feel heard and seen. I hope the hop gave you as much joy and validation as it did for me.

I'd like to remind you to visit all the other bloggers that you can. You can find their posts HERE.
Also, please be sure to take a gander at the IDAHOT website HERE.
Oh, and prizes. One lucky commenter (on all the blog posts I did for the hop) will win their choice of any ebook from my backlist.


Okay, now on to the body of my post. Bear with me. I'm going to take a bit of a meander in getting to my point today. I hope you'll take the time to amble along with me. I think if you do, you'll find the journey's end well worth the steps it took to get there.

The only way to get there is to start, so let's begin...

On the bus today I got to overhear a girl talking with her friend about a recent job interview. She relayed the questions she was asked and her answers. I thought for sure she was going to tell the friend she got the job, because dang, I would have hired her to work as a nurses aide in a heartbeat.

She was all about substance over appearance, being honest with family members, and providing the best possible patient care she could in the time she was allotted.

She didn't get the job, though.
Reason given?
She came to the interview in a headscarf, and that was "unprofessional attire for a job interview".

She explained to her friend how she'd decided to wear a scarf because her hair hadn't been "done" professionally in a while. She thought it wasn't up to snuff for an interview, and the twists she wore it in were starting to grow out. Not something she could fix up herself, and her hairdresser was booked up for a few weeks. She painstakingly chose the scarf, tied it neatly and prettily around her head.

My daughter asked me about the girl and her friend. And it was a prime opportunity for me to explain systemic racism to her, and how I believe systemic bias and bigotry affect everyone in a negative manner. 

And I do mean everyone. 

You see, I watched that girl and her friend get off the bus. And during their conversation, I heard them call one another by name, heard the way they spoke. 

We'll say her name was Kimberly. His can be Daquan for the purpose of this blog. Neither are their real names, but each bore the same imprint of ethnicity as the two I've given them. And Daquan, who also applied for a job at the same place, was not offered an interview, although he had more experience than Kimberly. Both had applied because a mutual acquaintance works at the long term care facility, and encouraged them to do so. They both used her for a reference.

Kimberly's interview seemed to go well right until the end, when the human resources representative told her that her headscarf was unprofessional, though *wink, wink* very cute on her.

She said, "I think he just wanted to see me, because he couldn't tell...not on the phone...he wanted to see so he could be sure."

I wasn't surprised when Kimberly and Daquan got off the bus to see two attractive, robust young people in their early twenties. I also was not surprised to see they were both black. You couldn't tell from their speech. They both spoke like any other well educated young twenty-something. They were polite and spoke at a moderate level. And they never complained other than Kimberly saying she wished the man had just been honest enough to say as soon as he saw her that he wasn't going to hire her instead of wasting her time. 

She didn't cuss. 
She didn't call him names.
She didn't even sound angry.
Because Kimberly wasn't surprised.
This is every day life for her.
This isn't even a blip in the road.

I was saddened for Kimberly. And even more so, I'm saddened for all of us who've gotten so accustomed to the status quo that we simply accept it at face value.

I am saddened by systemic racism.
I am saddened by the second and third class citizen status of so many people in my country.
I am saddened when the overwhelming reaction to the achievement of one small equality--legalization of same sex marriage--is a horrific pushback and the passage of multiple anti-LGBTQI laws in various states.

It means we have a long, long way to go.
And we'd better not forget it.
This fight is not done.

Because just like Kimberly, far too many in the LGBTQI community have grown accustomed to the disparity in how they are treated in our country. It's not on the law books as a death offense here in the United States. We don't throw people in jail for being gay, lesbian, bi, or trans.

We can fire them for being who they are though. We can allow ourselves to be swayed by old, wrong-headed stereotypes about people who fall under the LGBTQI umbrella.

And hey, it's hard not to when it didn't stop being classified as a mental disorder in the DSM-ll or the American classification of mental disorders. Trasgender identity is still classified as one. It's called Gender Dysphoria in the mental health field. To get treated and have some form of insurance cover it, a transgender person has to declare they have a mental illness.

And isn't that a kick in the teeth.

But wait, it gets worse.

Our umbrella is pretty big. We can all fit under it. If we are willing to get close. Share our space, and fight back to back.

That's not happening right now.

We've all been told since we were babies that being straight is normal. That's pervasive in every single facet of our society. We can learn different things after we are old enough to understand, but those early lessons of pink and blue and is it a boy or a girl and socialized toys in aisles for boys and aisles for girls...those things get internalized. They become entangled in our emotions. And while our heads may understand that there is in truth no such thing as normal, only variations along a spectrum, our hearts struggle far longer to learn that lesson.

Let's remember and celebrate how far we've come from the dark days when no one who lived under the umbrella dared to speak about their true selves.

Let's also remember how very far we have to go.

Let's remember that even if an inequality seems on the surface to not affect us, it does. 

If Kimberly can be denied an opportunity based on the color of her skin, or the kink of her hair, then all of us are at risk of being denied jobs because of our skin color, our eye color, etc. 

If Glenn can lose his job when his boss discovers he is gay, then so can any of us based on our sexuality.

The same goes for our physical sex characteristics, our gender identity, our sexual orientation, our age, and oh, I can go on and on.

We are none of us free until we are all free. 
We are none of us equal until we are all equal.
Isn't it time we began to behave accordingly?

We gather under an umbrella made of rainbows and hope to lift one another up. 
That can only be achieved if we learn to examine our own prejudices, cop to them, and be willing to let them go. 

There is no wrong or right way to be a man or a woman. 

There is no need to choose one or the other if you don't fit into that gender binary. 

There is no better way to be gay, or lesbian, or queer, or ace. 

There ARE bisexual people. They are not automatically "in denial". Bisexuality is a real thing.

We are all human. 

And we need to remember that first and foremost. We need to treat each member of our community well. And if we find ourselves guilty of thinking someone is doing homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality wrong, we need to look long and hard at where those assumptions come from.

It's like this.

I read this great book to my kidlet during potty training. 
You know, eons ago. 
It was called, Everybody Poops.
And guess what?
Everybody does poop.
And they all cry, and love, and get angry, etc.
If they don't cry when they're sad it's because someone taught them that it's not okay to do so.
If they hate swishy gays, or butch gays, or all gays...I can tell you right now IT"S BECAUSE SOMEBODY TAUGHT THEM TO.
Well, I got taught a load of crap when I was younger.
And my mom loved the hell out of me. She didn't teach me crap on purpose. She taught me crap because she'd been taught crap by her mom who'd been taught crap, etc.
But I don't have to keep believing that crap because she also taught me to think for myself. And to examine what I was taught. And neither do you.

Take a deep breath.
Take a hard look at yourself and your beliefs.
Lasting change starts small, starts close to home.
So start with you. Change how you talk about masculinity, femininity, and humanity.
Use the pronouns people ask you to use.
If you're not sure, ask. But do so politely.
If you suck at names, cop to that when your friend or workmate comes out as trans and asks to be called a new name.
Say, "... hey, I'm really bad at names, *I have to do this all the time* and since I met you as Tom, I'm going to struggle for a little while remembering that your name's Allie now. Please be patient. I absolutely want to support you. But I a shit with names. Seriously. Like that guy at the store? I always call him Paul. But his name is actually Steve. And I never remember until after I've already called him Paul." And if there's a legit reason, like you have a traumatic brain injury, or whatever, tell them. And if you don't have a physical or mental health thing that makes it legitimately tougher for you, prioritize learning to call them by the new name. Because it's a HUGE deal to them.

Show real support to others who fall under the umbrella with you. Remember when someone said to you that being gay or lesbian was just a phase? Remember how that hurt, or pissed you off? Okay, then don't do that to someone else under the umbrella.

And then dig deep.
Because this fight is a long way from over.
We're not free until we are all free. We're not equal until we are all equal.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hopping for Visibility, Awareness, and Equality: Fabulous Friday

All I ask today is that you go and read about an amazing act of love, courage, and compassion. Burkes is the woman, the person all of us can only hope to be in the face of insurmountable oppression. Let us never forget. Come on. Take a little trip with me.

Meet the Woman Who Cared for Hundreds of Abandoned Gay Men Dying of AIDS

Read This Post. You may cry. You may feel anger. And in the end, your heart will be filled with the incredible power of love. 

Just read it. And then pass it on, or pay it forward, or simply soak up the wonder that she stood up and stepped forward for these men.

That's truly fabulous.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hopping for Visibility, Awareness, and Equality: Thursday's Think Tank

To find all the other AMAZEBALLS blog posts happening as part of this HOP, please click this link.

I especially recommend #1, and #70.
Because they gave me all the feels. Ugly crying for joy feels. You should definitely check them out.

Also, if you haven't done so already, please check out the IDAHAT's home page by clicking here.

Today I want to get real with you.
I've had a lot percolating on the back burner of my mind for the last few years.
That's partly because of a head injury in 2014 that worsened my already existing TBI (traumatic brain injury), and in part because I finally got real with myself about a few things.
My new normal.
...and yes, my sexuality.



Yeah, here I am, forty-seven years old (ha, you probably thought I was going to say thirty-six and holding, didn't you?), and just coming to grips with the whole of my sexuality.

Or maybe it's an evolution we all go through.
I dunno.
At any rate, once I got real with myself, I wanted to get real with the people who matter in my life. My family.

Anyway, my parents are gone.
One of my sisters is gone, and the other, whom I love dearly...well, for a long time I feared letting her in on exactly who I am. Because I feared I'd lose what little connection we still share.
And I love that woman with my whole heart.
My daughter is still here. She lives with me. She' of the coolest, most exasperating and yet supportive people I know. With her it was easy to lean against the kitchen counter and say...

Guess what.
I'm not straight.
I fall for people. I'm attracted to people. Their party-time play parts don't have to be any certain shape or size or color to make me happy. Not as long as the person is someone I'm attracted to.

She shrugged and said, "That's cool. Do you want broccoli or green beans with dinner?"

And I was floored.

Because that's what I think coming out should be like for everyone.
Simply telling someone you care about that you've figured this thing about yourself, and them saying, okay, congrats on the insight, do you want broccoli or green beans for dinner.

In that moment I realized that even in all my own hangups, depression, and insecurities, I'd managed to raise this amazing kid. One who looks at the world full of people AS A WORLD FULL OF POSSIBLE FRIENDS.

She doesn't judge based on skin color, gender, sexuality.
She's as judgy as any sixteen year old, don't get me wrong. But her judgments are more likely to be based on things like how you treat your friends, if you recycle, and how compassionate you are.

I'm pretty sure I owe a lot of thanks to the LGBTQI writing community that took me in and cared for me all the credit for that. Each book I read, each friend I made, each time someone gently (or not so gently) showed me the limits I'd placed on myself and my views of the world...they helped me grow. Helped me be more accepting of the world in general until I could turn that inward and begin to accept myself.

I'm so very thankful for you all.
Frederick Feeley, Jeff Erno, and Rick Reed who showed me stories of gay men who broke every stereotype I'd ever heard of by being absolutely authentic. Zallora Allora who showered me with acceptance and love. Z.a. Maxfield, Stormy Glenn, and Amy Lane who mommed me when I needed it, stood with me as sisters when that was a better fit, and  always, always were my friends. I could go on and on forever naming you all. Rhae Camdyn. Erica Pike, N.J. Nielsen, Embry Carslyle, Miya Kressin, Samantha Derr. Megan Derr. Sasha Miller. So many names. And every single one of you has carried me through dark places in my life, shone light on the secrets I couldn't bear to look at before, and held my hand when I finally found the courage to do so. Sasha's Living Words characters nurse me through every illness. Ally Blue's boys come and sit with me when I'm struggling with PTSD. Simone Anderson and Angel Martinez let me fly through the stars and give me hope when all around me is bleak despair. Every single story I've read stays with me, a little echo in my soul that helps me shape myself into a better version of myself.

So...I'm here. I'm proudly pansexual.
To paraphrase one of my favorite Amy Lane characters, I've got equal opportunity party-time parts and a one-chance heart. And thanks to all of you, I'm finally okay with that.

Please take the time to tell me what reading LGBTQI stories does for you.
I'd love to hear your stories.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday Newsday: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

So on this first day of the Hop For Visibility, Awareness, and Equality I want to keep things simple.
Bring it down to the basics.
Every person out there is someone's child, aren't they?
We may or may not have children--some don't want to be parents, and that's fine. But we've all been someone's child. And how wonderful it would have been for each of us if our parents had  taken Kahil Gibran's words about children to heart.
I'll let Sweet Honey in the Rock say it for me.

We can strive to be like the children of today.
We can learn from them.
We can allow them to be who they are.
Even Heterosexual.

We can accept them as they are.
And oh, we should. We really, really should.

I'll leave you with a last thought. How amazing and wonderful was your life, or would it have been if your parents had treated you as a gift. Unwrapped you like a precious, vital thing, and then done everything in their power to learn from you. Accepted you as you are, and seen themselves as the platform from which you would spring forth into the stars? Oh, what a happy life that.

We can give our children that. We can give the youngsters we know that, whether they are our children or not. We can give it to them with our votes, with our daily walk through the world. Simply by being our authentic selves, and standing up for their right to do the same. Let's all commit to do that. Because oh, the things we will see...

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday's Mayhem and Foolishness...Testing the Links

Check out all the other authors for the Blog Hop For Visibility, Awareness, and Equality that starts tomorrow, May 17th. Yes, that is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.

The link is HERE